Who’s got the eye of the tiger?
The thrill of the fight…
Heading into the 2018 training camp for the New England Patriots, there are 90 hungry men vying for 53 roster spots. Who wants it? Who has what it takes? Training camp is the place for answers to these questions. The Patriots’ quest for a sixth championship begins with the start of the regular season.
In the first part of this series we take a pre-training camp look at which Patriots have the most to prove. We’ll take go deep into each position’s depth, contract details, and likelihood of making the roster. We’ll apply my scientific Shakeup Factor to let you know how critical it is for them to make the roster.
10. Jeremy Hill, RB
The veteran running back signed with New England late in free agency. If he wants to make the team, he will have to show that fire that he possessed in 2014. As a rookie he rushed for over 1100 yards. However, Hill is recovering from an ankle injury that ended his 2017 season and has very little money guaranteed.
Shakeup Factor: 1.5
This is all gravy! If he returns to form and produces well. There is no downside here if he doesn’t make the team.
9. Jordan Richards, DB
This was one of Belichick’s more head-scratching picks. When he selected the Stanford Cardinal in the second round, nearly everyone else had the player as a day three pick. Richards’ ups and downs have been numerous. And the moments have been trending towards more downs.
Shakeup Factor: 1.8
It would be disappointing to see another premium draft pick not pan out. However, the CB/DB position is one of the deepest on the team. He does face some stiff competition. Will he rise to the challenge?
8. Ryan Allen, P
We are witnessing the very rare and mysterious left-footed punter competition. Allen needs to fend off the young Corey Bojorquez in order to secure his place on the team. Can Allen take his game to the next level and solidify his spot? Don’t forget he took the job from the Zoltan in an epic puntoff.
Shakeup Factor: 2.5
This is punting we talkin’ about. While Allen has been solid, reliable, and accurate he hasn’t established himself as a top guy. And let’s not forget that there was a grand total of one punt in the Super Bowl, and it wasn’t from the Pats’ guy.
7. Eric Lee, DE
Sometimes the Patriots treat the rest of the AFC East like it’s their minor league farm system. It seemed like a minor move when they grabbed the practice squad player from the Bills in November. And after his first two games with the Patriots, it looked like armed robbery had taken place. Over two sacks and an interception will make you sit up and notice. His production tailed off down the stretch and suffered some miscues. Lee needs to make these corrections and claw his way up the depth chart in order to make the squad next season.
Shakeup Factor: 3.4
Starting to get into temblor territory here. Pass rush is at a premium and he displayed some ability in that area. The defensive front is always in flux with the Patriots and the best guys will play more. Lee aims to be that guy.
6. Cyrus Jones, CB / PR
Fumbles will kill your career on the Patriots faster than Super Bowl confetti falls. Faster than Tom Brady’s anger when you run the wrong route. Faster than… You get the picture. In ten games during his rookie season he dropped five and recovered two. Ask Stevan Ridley for directions to BB’s doghouse. Still, when he wasn’t coughing up the ball to opponents, he showed a flash on returns and looked pretty good on defense. Then he suffered a knee injury in the 2017 preseason. Classic make or break season for the young guy.
Shakeup Factor: 3.9
The potential is there. He just needs to put it all together and stay healthy. There is lots of competition in the DB room that will make it difficult. Needs a standout camp and preseason and for good reasons.
Look for Part II coming soon…
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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